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ALARMING RISE: Counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl, overdoses in Las Vegas

Posted at 9:01 PM, Mar 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-01 09:14:23-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Drug Enforcement Administration’s Las Vegas District has a new warning after an alarming rise of counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl and overdoses.

The DEA reports that Las Vegas has seen a 31% increase in overdoses and other drug-related deaths from 2019 to 2020.

The noticeable increase was in the first five months of the pandemic.

RELATED: Drug overdose deaths spiked at onset of COVID-19 pandemic

Doctors say fentanyl is about 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and it can be lethal just from one dose.

“You don’t know if it’s laced with fentanyl until it's too late until you’ve overdosed and you’re dead,” says Daniel Neill, Assistant Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“We’re seizing pill presses to make the actual pills locally,” says Neill “We seized two of them in less than a year.”

29% of overdose deaths in Clark County contained fentanyl and 21% of overdose deaths in Washoe County contained fentanyl.

RELATED: Approximately 50K counterfeit oxycodone pills seized in Las Vegas

“We’re also seeing a greater increase in the number of folks dying between zero and eighteen years of age, that number has really increased,” says Neill.

The data does not sit well with Dr. Krystal Riccio.

Dr. Riccio is part of the Drug Abuse Awareness Team at Roseman University, which started back in 2006 to educate middle and high school students about drug use.

“We’ve seen that there’s more fentanyl being laced into drugs, people may unknowingly ingest fentanyl when they are intending to use something else,” says Dr. Riccio.

RELATED: Southern Nevada Health District launches Linkage to Action mobile outreach unit

Dr. Riccio says no socioeconomic community is immune to Southern Nevada’s drug epidemic.

“This is an area where we have to have our awareness,” says Dr. Riccio.

Naloxone (also known as Narcan) can quickly reverse a drug overdose, and you can get it in various locations across Las Vegas.